Congratulations to the 2023 “Nick Vavas Time to Make a Difference” Scholarship Winners!

By: Denise-Marie Fisher, Director

Farmingville Hills Chamber of Commerce presented its 2023 awards for the “Nick
Vavas Time to Make a Difference” scholarship at Sachem East High School on
Thursday, June 1st. This year’s winners were selected from a pool of the largest
group of submissions we have ever received in the scholarship’s history. The task
of the essayists was to explain how they would impact their hometown community;
how they would – “make a difference”. Our winners were standout examples of
young civic minded students who are already volunteering and working on
community projects; truly doing what they can to make a difference!
Congratulations to our scholarship winners: Mateo Capraro & Amanda
Mastanduno, who each received a $500 scholarship for their worthy efforts and
essays! They were presented with their awards by Chamber President Michael
Wentz, Chamber Recording Secretary Thomas Lohr, and Marisa Pizza, Chamber
Director of Membership. Frank Sanzone, commander of Farmingville VFW Post
400, also presented two additional scholarship awards of $500 each to
worthy applicants Nicole Lowy and Adrianna Ancilleri.

Meet the Winners!

This year’s scholarship winners have volunteered at animal shelters, and helped
run an annual clothing and canned goods drive during the holidays in Farmingville,
and helped bring the proceeds to local families and pantries. They are also
members of the Farmingville Residents Association Youth Civic.

Mateo Capraro has run produce markets at farm stands in Farmingville, helping to
grow and sort the produce, and donates what doesn’t sell to five local food
pantries each week. He says, “Knowing I’m helping people in my community
provides me fulfillment and satisfaction. This is because I recognize that the work I
do supports the people that physically live around me and my family. By
supporting the people that live around me, I am cultivating a healthier environment
for my little brother to grow up in. And hopefully, one day, my little brother finds a
friend who was helped by a volunteer, and asks him to join a volunteer club!”

Amanda Mastanduno helped put together a community barbecue for veterans at
VFW post 400 so they can meet the community, and the community could meet
them. As part of that, she is working on collecting their positive & lighthearted
memories during their time serving. She’s hoping to publish on Amazon and have
the proceeds go back to veterans in the Farmingville community.

Adrianna Ancilleri was a cadet in the Civil Air Patrol. Volunteering each Saturday
at Island Harvest, she created over 5,000 meal kits for families in need, not only in
Farmingville, but throughout the country. She talked about a coat drive that she instituted at
Sagamore Middle School, which delivered warm coats to many needy families throughout Long Island; and the program is still running, for over 6 years. She also
devised a fitness trail plan for children with disabilities. She explains; “I built a trail
to help teach families about the benefits of exercise on one’s mental health….and
offering a means for families to be active together while providing physical activity
for children with disabilities“.

Nicole Lowy built a “Blessing Box” or donation box, where people could either
donate, or take what they might need. This was constructed and placed at
Greentree Park on Radburn Drive in Farmingville. “ After the Blessing Box had been up and running for a while, my friend and I came up with the idea of a suggestion box to add to it. So that if
anyone needed something specific, they could request it, and then the next time
we stocked the pantry, we would provide the needed item. The Blessing Box is an
active project that we continue to improve on and stock”.
These fine young college bound students have bright futures , and we cannot wait
to see what they do next for our Farmingville community!

Congratulations again to all four scholarship winners!

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